Football: Klopp rests stars, reds face replay

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp will likely rest key players ahead of Tuesday's (Feb 2) trip to Premier League leaders Leicester City.
Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp will likely rest key players ahead of Tuesday's (Feb 2) trip to Premier League leaders Leicester City.PHOTO: REUTERS

While he has good words for youngsters, Liverpool's fixture list continues to grow and grow

LONDON • Juergen Klopp praised his young Liverpool players after a 0-0 FA Cup fourth-round draw against West Ham United that added to his club's growing fixture list.

He named inexperienced youngsters Cameron Brannagan, Brad Smith, Kevin Stewart and Joao Teixeira - who had never started a Premier League match - in his line-up as he made 10 changes to the side who overcame Stoke City on Tuesday to reach the League Cup final.

The Liverpool manager was keen to rest key players ahead of tomorrow's trip to Premier League leaders Leicester City, as his side faced their ninth match of a busy January.

On Saturday, they were unable to find their way to victory, despite creating several good chances in the second half, with Teixeira and Christian Benteke both failing to beat goalkeeper Darren Randolph when well placed.

A replay means that Liverpool now face at least another seven games this month - eight if they win at Upton Park.

In other words, the Reds will have a midweek fixture every week until their March 2 League Cup final against Manchester City.

Klopp, though, felt his young players justified their inclusion in the side, and indicated that they are likely to feature in the replay at Upton Park, to take place the midweek after next.

"We will have a team for the replay at West Ham, and maybe it won't be too far away from this team today," he said.

"You can ask me about Teixeira and Brannagan, but if you want to mention names, there are others too. Five weeks ago, Kevin Stewart was at Swindon and not playing too often.

"Brad Smith made a big step in the right direction and did really well at full-back. That was really cool. Sheyi Ojo came in and again did well as a substitute, and so did Jerome Sinclair. So there's a lot of potential."

Klopp still has a number of key players out injured, including strikers Daniel Sturridge and Danny Ings, defenders Martin Skrtel and Joe Gomez and playmaker Philippe Coutinho.

West Ham manager Slaven Bilic, meanwhile, gave credit to his side for being resilient, as they overcame the first-half losses to injury of defender James Tomkins and midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate.

"Overall, I am happy with the result and I congratulate my guys. Drawing at Anfield is tough. It is also tough to keep a clean sheet at Anfield," said Bilic, who has already masterminded a double over Liverpool in the league but saw his side register just one shot on target on Saturday.

"Nobody wants to play a replay because of the schedule, but we can live with that. It's much worse for them."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 01, 2016, with the headline 'KLOPP RESTS STARS, REDS FACE REPLAY'. Print Edition | Subscribe